Kevin Stefanski is the first Cleveland Browns head coach to lead the team to 10-plus wins and a playoff berth in the same season since Bill Belichick in 1994.
Despite the impressive season, a positive COVID-19 test will force the first-time head coach to watch his club from isolation as they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Stefanski downplayed his gameday role, while confirming there were no new positive tests.
“The players understand that it doesn’t really matter who the head coach is on Sunday. They know how we play,” he said, via NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala.
Stefanski is being modest, which is his only play to call given the circumstances.
“This team is not in my image, it’s the Cleveland Browns,” he said. “We’ve established an identity. We did it back in the spring, we told the guys how we were going to play. We made sure we brought players in there that fit that mold. And I think the guys understand perfectly how we play and how we win.”
The coach has led a solid Browns offense that ranks third in rushing in the NFL and third in red zone scoring — a place they struggled mightily last season. Even though he played down his role, the Browns will miss Stefanski on Sunday. Play-calling is an art driven by feel. The team has gotten used to his tendencies and he knows the pulse of his players. Having to make a switch in the playoffs is like losing a prime starter due to injury.
Stefanski confirmed that Andy Van Pelt will call plays on Sunday.
The Browns will continue to work virtually Wednesday as they prepare for their first postseason game since 2002.
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